Justice Thakur, like Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare’s ‘ Hamlet ‘, ” doth protest too much “. He has complained of the large number of vacancies in the High Courts. Why does he not also talk of the huge corruption in the judiciary, and the inordinate time the judiciary takes in deciding cases ? Mr. Shanti Bhushan, the former Union Law Minister and a very senior lawyer of Supreme Court, filed an affidavit many years back in the Court stating that half of the previous 16 Chief Justices of India were definitely corrupt ( he named them ), and there was some doubt about 2 more.
Since then there have been more CJIs about whose integrity there were grave question marks. Justice Bharucha, a former CJI, said in the year 2000 or so that 20% of the High Court judges are corrupt, and since then the percentage has probably doubled. As regards the subordinate judiciary things are far worse.
As regards judicial delays, cases often take 20 years or more to decide finally ( after appeals, second appeals, etc ). Litigants who get caught in litigation often weep over the delays. Is Justice Thakur not bothered about that ? Justice Thakur has clearly gone overboard in his intemperate and indiscreet utterances. It is true that there are many vacancies in the High Courts. But the deadlock cannot be broken by the confrontationist approach Justice Thakur has adopted.
In less than an hour of the Prime Minister’s speech from Red Fort, Justice Thakur in his address at the Supreme Court flag hoisting, expressed his disapproval of the Prime Minister’s speech as he felt the content fell far short of his expectation. Did Justice Tbhakur expect the Prime Minister to talk of the differences between the Supreme Cour and the Govt.of India from the ramparts of the Red Fort?
In his speech Justice Thakur is reported to have said to the Union Law Minister, Mr. Ravi Shanker Prasad, who was present : “Ravi Shankar Prasad ji gaanth ke pakke hein. Lekin agar yeh gaanth ke pakke hain toh hum bhi gaanth ke kachchey nahi hain. Gaanth hamari bhi pakki hai jo hcumne aaj dikha bhi diya. Jhanda gira lekin humne dandey ko phir se ukhad key jhanda baandhah aur phir se aharaya “
(Ravi Shankar Prasad is adamant. But if that is so, we too are adamant and steadfast in our resolve. We demonstrated it today.. The flag fell off, but we uprooted the pole, tied the wflag to it and hoisted it again. That is our resolve,” Thakur said )
What kind of language is this? Thakur has spoken like a boxer showing his gloves or a wrestler flexing his muscles at an opponent. Such crude, unsophisticated language was least expected of a person occupying such a high office..
Of late Justice Thakur seems to have lost his balance. His BCCI order, in which he ignored dozens of binding precedents which said that judges cannot legislate ( see my report in the website bcci.tv in which I have quoted about 40 such judgments, many of them of 5 judge or 3 judge benches ) shows he has no respect for judicial discipline and self restraint. He then went on to say in a case relating to the All India Football Federation that the ‘ BCCI treatment ‘ will have to be given to the football body too. So now Justice Thakur may give the ‘BCCI treatment’ to many bodies, e.g. political parties, Bollywood, medical profession, etc. If this view is accepted, what prevents the judiciary from ordering that no Minister or M.P. or mediaperson will hold office after the age of 70 years, or have a tenure of more than 9 years, as was directed for BCCI office bearers ? Surely this is a legislative function.
His statement that he may consider withdrawing judicial work from High Court judges who were recommended to be transferred shows his ignorance of the fact that allotment of work ( or not allotting it ) is to be done under our Constitutional scheme by the Chief Justice of the High Court, not the CJI. Under our Constitutional scheme, while High Courts have administrative control over the lower judiciary ( vide Articles 227 and 235 ), the Supreme Court has no administrative control over the High Courts. High Courts under our Constitutional scheme are administratively autonomous, though on the judicial side appeals against their orders can go to the Supreme Court.
What Justice Thakur has forgotten is that decisions at the highest level are to be reached by consensus, by the CJI and the Govt. representatives sitting in a room and coolly discussing the matter, and not by one organ flexing its muscles at another, or by the CJI giving confrontationist open speeches which play to the galleries and receive popular applause and cheers..
Justice Thakur said that judges should work during summer vacations and clear the backlog, but he himself went abroad twice during the last summer vacations. He directed that no Delhi judicial officer should go abroad even if he is on leave, but evidently he has exempted himself from this rule ‘Par upadesh kushal bahutere.’
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